Any good employer knows that happy, motivated, and loyal staff are far more likely to perform well and stay with a business. The benefits of a happy workforce are numerous including improved customer service, higher productivity and less time and money spent recruiting and training new staff.
It wasn’t that long ago that free biscuits and an early finish on a Friday would be all that was expected from a progressive employer but these days the bar is set far higher….
Different external forces have driven changes to the work environment, work culture and employee benefits that set the benchmark today. The impact of Covid e.g., on working from home, an increased emphasis on physical and mental health, new thinking from younger employees entering the job market and of course the cost-of-living crisis are just some of the reasons for these changes.
So, what can employers do to take care of their teams in 2023? We’ve set out below 3 things, our top tips if you like, that should be at the top of the list when designing the perfect caring environment.
1 – Communicate! Ask staff what they want
Unless you’ve got a time machine it’s an unstoppable fact that new generations with new ways of thinking are joining your workforce – but do you have any idea what they need to perform at their best?
Our guess is that most employers attempt to shoehorn new staff into old ways of working. Whilst that does have to apply to some extent, it probably won’t create a happy group of younger staff who, don’t forget, are your leaders of tomorrow. It’s time to embrace Gen Z and Millennial thinking!
A great place to start is simply by asking your employees what they want. What we already know is that work-life balance is king so, practices like working from home are expected (where possible) but it may be that a lunchtime yoga session for anyone in the office, or healthy lunch options, are important too. The old-school benefits like free life assurance may seem less attractive than access to a mentor or psychotherapist.
It is a good idea to set up a focus group to find out what matters across current and new employees – it could be that a few small changes could have a massive impact on a large group of your people.
2 – Create the right physical workplace
It goes without saying that a working environment must be safe, clean and have all the facilities needed for an employee to perform their role.
Rest areas, break-out/meeting rooms and client-facing rooms make life more comfortable and well-stocked staff kitchens are becoming the norm. These are the ‘hygiene factors’, the ‘must haves’ if you like, but what else is important? How can you go the extra mile as an employer in 2023?
Progressive employers are focusing on individuality, staff well-being and mental health. Ideas to support these goals include:
- Provide a quiet room where employees can take a break.
- Supply separate, clean spaces to eat with some free and healthy food/drink/snacks. This can really help with cost-of-living concerns without making people declare they have issues.
- Provide an area for physical activity, whether that is muy thai or yoga!
- Ensure spaces have lots of natural light and bring nature inside with plants.
- Make spaces dog/pet friendly if possible (bearing in mind that not all employees will share the love of pets).
- Decorate to inspire rather than just using the corporate colour palette and allow staff to personalise their spaces (within limits!)
- Design your layout to support your organisation’s most common processes and procedures, a layout that encourages communication and makes being productive simple.
And again, communicate, don’t forget to ask the staff what they want from their space, you might be surprised what’s important to them!
3 – Pay fairly and provide great benefits
Caring for staff, providing a great physical workplace, even embracing ideas and requests from your workforce could be a waste of time if pay and benefits are below par. Ultimately staff will vote with their feet – you can end up with gaps waiting to be filled and then end up paying market rates to attract new staff plus the costs of recruiting. So how do you ensure that you’re competitive and able to retain your talent?
A great place to start is by benchmarking the salaries of your staff with the outside world, ideally on an annual basis. Generic data showing salaries by role and sector is available with some research or can be purchased through a dedicated supplier. Alternatively, this is something that we can provide specific to your location and industry, just get in touch for more details.
If you come up short, then work up a plan to bring staff in line with the market before you lose them to the next company down the road.
A good benefits plan is just as important as a competitive salary and usually includes a pension with employer contribution, flexible working, paid time off, insurance such as dental cover and discounted memberships to gyms or other retail offerings.
Some companies provide paid mental health days where staff can choose to do anything they want that helps with their wellbeing. We know of employers who offer other perks such as free lunches, paid for team meals each month, free therapy, free massages, yoga classes, table tennis tables, ride-to-work schemes – the list is endless.
Free days off for community volunteering are a bonus in your benefits plan as well as a great perk for the community, good for team bonding and they have wellbeing benefits for the individuals.
In the current social landscape flexibility is key. We want to be able to be good parents, own a dog, care for elderly parents, look after our body as well as our mind etc. It’s a conundrum for employers though who have commitments to customers and shareholders, as well as productivity targets.
Ultimately financial survival of your organisation still depends on a certain amount of output being achieved. A four-day working week or flexible hours across a five-day week, combined with job sharing and work-from-home opportunities can be a real bonus for individuals if managed effectively. Organisations can usually build some flexibility into their employment contracts and working hours to meet the needs of employees while keeping control of the work schedule.
Our tips are wide-ranging and are just some of the things an employer can do to care for their staff. We would always encourage employers to have an open mind and use a collaborative approach to ensure the care it provides is right for its people. Never be afraid to do something a little different – you could easily find you’ve started the next big trend in EVP, the ‘employee value proposition’.
If you want help with your EVP or any other HR issues in this article, HR Revolution is ready to help! We offer ad hoc help or a regular retained service, just get in touch at email@example.com to find out more.